Maui is home to many incredible hiking trails that can be found all around the island. If it’s your first time visiting Maui and you’re looking for a great “warm-up” trail, I highly suggest starting off your trip with the stunning Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Conveniently located just a short drive from Lahaina and Kaanapali, this amazing hike is a favorite for many visitors and a great way to kick-start your Maui vacation! It’s short and easy enough that most people can finish it within a couple of hours and the beautiful scenery makes it an incredibly awarding hike to do.
In this post, we share tips for hiking the Kapalua Coastal Trail, where to park, what to bring, and what you can expect to see to make the best of your hike!
Psst! If you’re looking for other great day hikes to do in Maui, we also recommend checking out the:
- Acid War Zone Trail To Nakalele Blowhole In West Maui
- Waihe’e Ridge Trail In West Maui, Hawaii
- Twin Falls Maui Waterfall Along The Road To Hana
- Sliding Sands to Halemau’u Trail At Haleakalā National Park
Quick Trail Overview
Before we get into details, here is a quick overview of the Kapalua Coastal Trail in Maui:
- Length: 3.5 miles out and back
- Elevation Gain: Around 200 feet (it’s fairly flat)
- Trail Difficulty: Easy
- Time Needed: 2-3 hours, plus more time if you plan to stop for snorkeling
Kapalua Coastal Trail Description
Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the shortest and easiest trails that you can hike in West Maui. Compared to some other trails in Maui like the Waihe’e Ridge Trail or the Halemau’u Trail, this one was a breeze.
Kapalua Coastal Trail travels next to the ocean and offers incredible views of the rugged Maui coastline.
Most people don’t hike the entire trail and instead walk until they find a good spot on the beach for a bit of sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. If you decide to tackle the entire trail (which I recommend you do!), set aside a few hours to experience everything it has to offer.
Kapalua Coastal Trail Map:
The trail consists of mixed terrain including a wooden boardwalk, paved walkways, rugged lava rocks, and loose sand that can be difficult to navigate if you don’t have good walking shoes. I recommend wearing hiking sandals that are easy to take off during the sandy beach sections and have a grip to take on the rocky parts.
Some of the main attractions along this trail include the:
- Kapalua Bay Beach
- Ironwood Cliffs
- Dragon’s Teeth
- D.T. Fleming Park
If you have snorkeling gear, I highly recommend bringing that along as well. You will pass some of the best snorkeling beaches in the world so don’t miss out on the amazing opportunity to see some incredible sea life.
We have our own snorkeling gear which we got from Amazon and brought with us to Maui. If you don’t want to carry heavy snorkeling gear around, you can also rent some at Kapalua Bay Beach.
Location & Parking
Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the closest hiking trails to vacation rentals and luxury resorts in West Maui, but with that come a lot of people and limited parking.
There are several free parking lots along the Kapalua Coastal Trail where visitors and hikers can leave their cars. But the free parking lots here are small and the spots get taken up quickly.
We started the trail at the southern entrance so this is where we parked. We found parking at a lot on the corner of Lower Honoapiilani Rd & Bay Club Pl which is right next to the Kapalua Coastal Trailhead.
This parking lot is open to the public until 3 pm and there were signs that it costs $10 to park here, but the payment system was not working. When we asked the parking attendant about it, he just said to be back by 3 pm.
After parking, we walked down a paved path to the beach where the Kapalua Coastal Trail officially starts.
Know Before You Go
- This trail is pretty straight forward and it’s well marked but a few of the side trails are easy to miss. I recommend using AllTrails hiking app or Maps.me to track your hiking route. You can find this trail listed on AllTrails as Kapalua Coastal Trail.
- The weather in Maui tends to be hot and sunny. Be sure to wear reef-friendly mineral sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, and bring plenty of water for your hike to avoid dehydration and sunburns.
- Bring a bathing suit! You’ll have plenty of opportunities along this trail to jump in the water for a refreshing swim.
- It can be very windy along the coast. I don’t recommend wearing anything that can easily blow away in the wind. I brought a hat to help with the harsh sunlight but had to hold on to it for the entire hike.
- Getting close to ocean cliffs in Maui can be very dangerous. Falling down cliffs and getting washed into the ocean by unexpected waves are some of the main reasons for injuries and fatalities in Maui. Always prioritize your safety and use extra caution when hiking near cliffs.
- It’s free to hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail which is a nice perk when most activities in Maui are quite expensive. But keep in mind that there are limited amenities nearby. There is one restroom at the beginning of the trail but no other public restrooms that I noticed after that. And don’t forget pack out any trash that you may have!
- If you’re tempted to take any volcanic rocks, coral reefs, or beach sand as a souvenir, please don’t. It is illegal to remove natural resources from Maui and can lead to hefty fines for those who try. Thousands of dollars are spent every year to return displaced rocks, sand, and coral reef to their original location in Maui.
Hiking The Kapalua Coastal Trail
Here is the detailed breakdown of the Kapalua Coastal Trail covering what the hike is like and a few of the must-see stops along it.
Stop 1 – Kapalua Bay Beach
To start the trail park in the visitor parking lot and head down towards the ocean on a paved path that leads to Kapalua Bay Beach. You will see a tunnel that you will need to go through – the beach is soon after.
This trail has very little incline and is mostly flat. We saw everyone of all ages enjoying the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
There are many interactive signs and information plaques scattered on the trail along with a map highlighting the main stops. Some signs describe local animal and bird species and some cover trail rules for Maui.
Once you reach Kapalua Bay Beach, you have the option to head down to the beach for some world-class snorkeling. We decided to do the hike first and stopped here on the way back to snorkel and lay out.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot giant turtles along this trail. We saw several turtles including one that was taking an afternoon nap in the sand. The whole area was roped off to give this guy plenty of space to rest. If you see one, keep a distance (minimum 10 feet) so they don’t feel disturbed.
Stop 2 – Hawea Point
After Kapalua Bay Beach, the trail continues on a paved path next to luxury hotels and resorts. Then the paved path will end and turn into a sandy trail. Here you have the option to head left on a short side trail along the Hawea Point shore.
We decided to venture into this narrow, overgrown trail and once we turned around the corner, we were greeted with incredible views of the Namalu Bay coastline.
This is also a popular spot for cliff jumping. After watching a group of people cliff jump for a while, Joel went in for a couple of jumps as well.
Stop 3 – Ironwood Cliffs
The next spot you’ll reach are the Ironwood Cliffs that are rugged lava fields next to the shore. You can walk in a short loop through these rocks and connect back with the main trail.
Stop 4 – Oneloa Bay
From here you can keep going on a flat boardwalk or head down to the Oneloa Bay Beach.
Oneloa Beach consists of a large, sandy shoreline that is rarely crowded. The waves here are too big for snorkeling but it’s a great place to take a much-needed nap or head for a swim in the water.
Stop 5 – Makaluapuna Point
There is an entrance at the other end of Oneloa Beach that connects with the boardwalk and travels out to the main road. Take this path if you want to continue hiking along the Kapalua Coastal Trail. Soon after you will have an option to head into another side trail called the Dragon’s Teeth Access Trail.
This is a short walk next to a golf course that leads down to unique lava rock formations which look like jagged teeth from a dragon. Here you will also see a large prayer site called the Kapalua Labyrinth.
Stop 6 – D.T. Fleming Park
Then head back to the main trail and continue along a paved path that travels next to the Ritz-Carlton hotel. This is the last section of the trail which ends at the D.T. Fleming Park. Here you can walk down to the beach and enjoy views of the ocean before making your way back along the same route.
Kapalua Coastal Trail is one of the easiest ocean trails in Maui that features ocean cliffs, unique rock formations, and pristine white sand beaches.
We hope you enjoyed this post and it has helped you prepare for a great hike! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comment section below.
Where To Stay
The two main hotel areas in Maui are called Lahaina and Kihei. During our 10 day Maui trip we stayed in different sections of the island so we got to know both of these areas.
If you plan to explore West Maui, I recommend staying in Lahaina. This is where most of the luxury resorts and hotels are located and this area is just a short drive to the Kapalua Coastal Trail.
There are many hotels to choose from in Lahaina but we personally stayed in a relaxing oceanfront rental apartment called Kaleialoha Resort. With a direct view of the ocean, we watched sunsets from our balcony and woke up to the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. Private rentals also feel a lot more quiet and secluded than busy mega-hotels.
Looking for more things to do in Maui? Here are some of our other popular Maui posts to help with your trip planning!
- 30 Of The Best Things To Do In Maui, Hawaii
- 10 Amazing Places To Stay In Hana For Your Maui Adventure
- 25 Amazing Free & Cheap Things To Do In Maui
- 9 Of The Best Hikes On Maui Island In Hawaii
- 8 Must-Visit Road To Hana Stops In Maui, Hawaii
Interested in stepping up your photography skills? Here is the camera gear that I use and recommend to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7II Camera With 28-70 mm Standard Lens
- Polarizer Filter for the standard lens (helps eliminate reflection and enhance color especially on super bright days): Amazon Basics 55 mm
- Wide Lens (great for nature shots): Sony 16-35 mm F4
- Polarizer Filter for the wide lens: Amazon Basics 72 mm
- Small Tripod (to stabilize photos and eliminate blur): JOBY Gorrilapod
- Memory Cards: SanDisk 32 GB
- Batteries: Sony Battery Charger Set
- Camera Bag: Lowepro weather-resistant bag
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